The purpose of this study was to evaluate group versus individual housing with a cold ad libitum feeding system for calves. Twelve Holstein calves were assigned to group or individual housing at birth. The experiment had two replications, each consisting of one group of 3 calves and 3 individually housed calves. All calves were fed cold acidified milk replacer ad libitum plus calf starter and water. Behavior was studied for one 48-h period during wk 1, 3, and 6. Four male calves were slaughtered at wk 6 for determination of carcass composition. Milk replacer and water intakes in the preweaning period (wk 1 to 5) tended to be higher for group-fed calves. Calf starter intake was not different. Group-housed calves had a higher BW and a slightly higher (although not statistically significant) average daily gain than calves fed in individual pens. Packed cell volume was lower for group calves due to their higher liquid intake, but plasma glucose and urea N concentrations were similar. Individually housed calves spent more time using the nipple and group-fed calves spent more time drinking water. Amount of time eating starter did not differ between treatments but differed with age. Carcass composition was not different between calves housed individually or in groups. Because individually housed calves spent more time using the nipple, but consumed less milk replacer, they may have been exhibiting a form of purposeless behavior. Higher milk replacer intake by group-fed calves did not result in greater carcass fat content at 6 wk of age.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology